NEW DELHI: Expectant mothers breathing polluted air resulted in premature birth of over one million babies in India in 2010, highest in the world and twice the numbers for China, a study claimed today.
The study found that in 2010, about 2.7 million preterm births globally were associated with outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter and largest contribution to global PM2.5 associated premature births was from South and East Asia, which together contributed about 75 per cent of the total.
Noting that a pregnant woman’s exposure can vary greatly depending on where she lives, the study said that in a city in China or India, for instance, the woman might inhale “more than 10 times” as much pollution as she would in rural England or France.
When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities.
There are many risk factors for preterm birth – from the mother’s age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors and recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor. (AGENCIES)